“It’s all settled then, Maddie. You will read the mission story for our Sabbath School?”
My face blanched as I fumbled for the right words to refuse kindly. I gulped, my mouth dry before choking out, “Ok, I guess so.” No, Maddie. You should have said NO!
It was one particular Sabbath afternoon that a church member approached me. Every week, someone new would read the selected mission story for adult Sabbath School. I was a pastor’s daughter, and, therefore, it was only a matter of time before someone asked that I participate. On multiple occasions I would politely decline due to my painfully shy nature. But this week I succumbed to the nerve-wracking request for fear of disapproval.
As the following week progressed, I grew more anxious about my agreement to read on stage. I spent an excessive amount of time reading through each sentence, careful to avoid mispronunciations. As the day grew closer, my inner thoughts consumed me – what if I fail?
On the following Sabbath morning, I sat through song service, completely nauseous with fear. When my name was finally called, I hastened to the stage, hands clenched. Heart pounding, I gripped the book’s worn pages as I muddled through the mission story. It was an agonizing eight minutes as I stumbled through my reading, dreading every second of attention. When my story finished, I hurried off the stage, unaware of the microphone cord I was about to trip over. A crimson shade of embarrassment flushed my face; I was overcome with humiliation. Tears welled as I ran to the bathroom to disguise my emotion. I was a 10-year-old girl who felt pressured into speaking on stage and made myself sick all week because of it. Streams of liquid anxiety pooled onto the bathroom counter; I vowed never to speak publicly in church again.
Looking back, I feel for the little girl who feared the stage. An enormous amount of pressure was thrown on me due to my father’s position, and I grew up resenting church due to that pressure. When I refused public speaking, others made me feel guilty for not participating. I would receive responses such as: “Your father’s a pastor, it’s your duty to set an example” or “You need to set aside your childish fear, you’re doing it for the Lord.” These responses left me feeling intimidated and coerced into being on stage. I felt like a spiritual puppet that needed to perform. How could I serve God without feeling anxious?
Throughout the years, I’ve tapped into my spiritual gifts and discovered ways to bless others. I’ve found that my spiritual gift is serving through outreach and community service. Whether it’s raising money for non-profit organizations, volunteering at soup kitchens, or packing toiletry bags for children, I can still serve Christ in a valuable way.
As Christians, we’re all a valuable part of God’s church. God calls each of us to serve in ways that bring honor to Him, and these acts of service come in different forms, whether it’s in the form of hospitality, outreach, or singing special music. It’s not to say that participating in other areas isn’t important; however, some of us thrive in different ministry positions. And if we take the time to invest in a position that aligns with our spiritual gifts, we can immensely bless others.
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10, NIV).
My challenge to you is to dig deep and uncover a spiritual gift you may be unaware of. Discover your strengths and how you can best use them to serve others, and you might be surprised with the results.
Madeleine Lowe writes from Indiana.
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